The Government of Canada and UN Women Launch Support to Increase Women’s Political Participation in Nigeria
Within the context of the ongoing Constitutional Review Process and the background of extremely low participation and representation of women in Nigerian politics, the Government of Canada in partnership with UN Women signed a grant agreement of $8 Million Canadian Dollars (CAD) to implement a programme titled ‘The ADVANCE: Women’s Political Participation in Nigeria’.
Acting Canadian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Kevin Tokar who made the declaration at the launch, said this programme seeks to promote women's participation towards the 2023 general elections and beyond. It will span a period of four years starting from March 2022 and will be implemented in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Kaduna State, Kwara State, Borno State, Ekiti State, Ebonyi State and Cross River State.
H.E. Kevin Tokar expressed the significance of women in leadership positions as a key factor for addressing issues pertaining to women and girls and a prerequisite for sustainable development in Nigeria.
“With a budget of $8 Million Canadian Dollars (CAD), this programme will support the capacity of legislators, electoral bodies and political parties to enact gender-responsive laws and policies that promote gender balance in leadership, train and mentor women to participate in political and election processes, with the aim of increasing women voters, candidates and elected officials at the federal, state, and local level.”
“Canada is proud to support efforts to raise the voices of women in political and legislative spaces in Nigeria. We firmly believe that increased political participation by women ultimately leads to increased prosperity, peace and security for all Nigerians.” said Kevin Tokar, Acting High Commissioner, during the project launch in Abuja.
UN Women Country Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ms Comfort Lamptey appreciated the immense support from the Canadian Government, saying UN Women’s mandate over the past five years around women leadership was made possible through the contributions of the Canadian government.
“At a global level, women’s role in decision-making is a pillar of UN Women’s mandate and over the past five years around women’s leadership, this has been made possible thanks to the generous contribution of the Government of Canada within the context of the regional leadership Programme covering four countries in WCA region: Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and the Central African Republic.”
“As it stands, and despite the tireless efforts of women and some critical male allies, Nigeria lags severely behind other African nations for women’s representation in democratic governance. Nigerian women constitute less than 5% of elected members at the National Assembly. In State Assemblies, the figure is 4.43% and for ministerial appointments it stands at 16.2%.”
“The action taken by the House of Representatives under the leadership of the Speaker of the House, to rescind its decision on three gender-related bills is the correct course of action. The bills in question are around: citizenship, indigeneship and, as it relates directly to women’s representation, the bill on affirmative action.”
Deputy Chief Whip, House of Representatives, Hon Nkiruka Onyejeocha, while thanking women for their spontaneous reaction which has forced the House of Reps to rescind its resolution and openness to reconsider three of the five gender bills (Indigeneship Bill, Citizenship Bill and the 35 per cent affirmative action on Political Parties’ bill), it earlier threw out during voting on 68 clauses of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, said it’s time for the lawmakers to sit-down and address these bills.
The event brought together high-level guests - Deputy Chair, Committee of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hon. Vincent Ofumelu, Deputy Chief Whip in the House of Representatives, Hon Nkiruka Onyejeocha, Representative of Sultan of Sokoto III, Emir of Keffi, Alhaji Shehu Yamusa III, IMF Resident Representative, Ari Aisen, representative of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Iyalode Alaba Lawson, UN Women Country Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Comfort Lamptey, Acting Canadian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Kevin Tokar, UN Resident Coordinator, Matthais Schmale and British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing amongst other stakeholders.